Garden City beats rival Manhasset, 1-0, in Nassau Class B county final
The sequence in which Melanie McHugh scored was, in some way, poetic.
Garden City had skillfully driven the length of the field before earning itself a penalty corner. With its offense in formation and readying to shoot, Manhasset swooped in and stole the ball, and appeared set to make a run.
But Jackie Marino got it back.
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The defender stole the ball near the 20, drove into the circle and sent a long pass inside to McHugh. From the left post, the forward fired a shot that just sneaked into the corner with 16:01 remaining.
And just like, Marino said, "We took back what was ours."
The goal held up as top-seeded Garden City edged rival Manhasset, 1-0, in the Nassau Class B final Sunday. The victory avenged last year's championship game loss to the Indians, which had snapped the Trojans' epic run of 18 straight county titles.
Garden City (17-0) will face Miller Place for the L.I. championship at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Dowling.
"Just hearing that ball hit the back of the cage was awesome," McHugh said. "It wasn't the prettiest shot in the world, but it was redemption."
Redemption for that 1-0 loss last season, on a heartbreaking late goal. Redemption for a year spent replaying in their minds the scenes of that game's waning moments.
"We didn't execute there as we should have and lost it momentarily, but the girls were so determined to get it right back," Trojans coach Diane Chapman said.
She was talking about the penalty corner, but those words could have easily also applied to reclaiming the championship plaque.
Third-seeded Manhasset possessed the ball for most of the second half but was turned away repeatedly. Marino, Taylor Gladd and sisters Shannon and Kelly Tierney anchored the Trojans' defense, which helped them gain a 7-0 advantage in corners, and Sabrina Milone made three saves. Jensen Polizzotto had 11 stops for the Indians (11-4-1).
"That was such a sad feeling walking off the field last year," sophomore Michaela Bruno said. "We wanted to prove ourselves. All we needed was another chance."
They got one, when Marino got it back. Then Garden City took it back.